NSW Government replaces locals with Indian IT workers

By Leith van Onselen

Australian governments’ pretend concern over Australia’s universally weak wages growth (see above chart) has been exposed again, with the NSW Government explicitly mandating that the winning bidder for its Roads and Maritime Services IT contract – Indian outsourcer Wipro – employ 30% of its workers from India to keep costs low. From IT News:

A controversial NSW Roads and Maritime Services IT deal that will see a third of IT jobs sent offshore has been handed to Indian outsourcer Wipro, iTnews can reveal.

…up to thirty percent of the work is set to be sent offshore under the deal – a proposal that was forshadowed by The Daily Telegraph last year when revealed the agency’s requirement for “target offshore resource utilisation” to reduce costs…

RMS this week confirmed that the contract would eventually see 30 percent of work offshored…

“The contract ensures that at least 80 per cent of work is carried out within Australia in year one and at least 70 per cent of work is carried out in Australia during year two and beyond,” the spokesperson said.

Wipro has already been used on IT projects for Sydney Water, employing “hundreds of cut-price Indian IT workers”, as revealed by The Australian last year:

Hundreds of cut-price Indian IT workers are working for the NSW government, being paid as little as $50,000 a year for what should be $100,000-plus jobs at Sydney Water…

Wipro is already involved on IT projects for Sydney Water, having won a tender to “design, build and run Sydney Water’s billing and customer relationship management system”.

There are 120 staff in India and about 300 in Australia working on the system.

“Any Wipro employees based in India that come to Australia will continue to earn their Indian salary plus an allowance to consider higher cost-of-living expenses in Australia,” a spokes­woman for Syd­ney Water said…

Under the terms of 457 visas, workers are not supposed to be paid at less than market rate…

This is exactly the type of malfeasance that the Australian Population Research Institute (APRI) warned about in its 2016 report “Immigration overflow: why it matters”, which examined the widespread rorting of Australia’s visa system, especially involving Indian IT workers.

The APRI report noted how IT professionals, engineers and accountants (including auditors) were the key professions where foreign worker visas were being issued, despite these industries having significant surplus labour:

ScreenHunter_16433 Dec. 02 07.28

The 17,185 IT professionals visaed in 2015-16 (Table 1) indicate the scale of the problem. By contrast, just over 5,000 residents are currently completing undergraduate course in IT each year…

In particular, the IT sector is experiencing the deepest rorting from Indians being paid well below market wages:

As Table 2 shows, some 76 per cent of the 7,542 457 visas issued in the three IT occupations listed were to Indian nationals. The great majority of these were sponsored by Indian IT service companies as intra-company transferees…

ScreenHunter_16434 Dec. 02 07.34

Once in Australia their staff are being paid at much lower rates than experienced resident IT professionals and in some cases even new local graduates.

Even more disturbing is the relatively high proportion of these Indian IT professionals (28 per cent) whose 457 visas were approved at the extremely low base salary of $53,900 or less. This is despite the fact that only eight per cent of the 457 visas granted to Indians in the two ICT occupations in 2014-15 were aged less than 25.

The median starting salary for local ICT graduates under the age of 25 is around $54,000. Coincidentally, the 457 minimum salary ‘floor’ is set at $53,900…

As the data in Appendix I show, between 2012-13 when Labor was in office and 2013-14 under the Coalition the proportion of Indian 457 IT professionals approved at the very low base salaries increased dramatically, from eight per cent to 27 per cent…

Clearly, the legislated requirement to pay the 457 market salary rate is not being implemented in the case of the Indian IT service companies (and perhaps other multinationals with Indian branches). The violation is obvious, given that more than one-quarter (28%) of Indian 457s in the two ICT occupations had their visas approved at no more than Australian IT graduate starting salaries…

ScreenHunter_16435 Dec. 02 07.39

How can Australia’s low wage growth possibly be ‘fixed’ when our own governments employ policies designed specifically to undermine pay and conditions?

The treasonous NSW Government is actively working against the interests of its own citizens employed in the IT sector.

[email protected]

Unconventional Economist
Latest posts by Unconventional Economist (see all)


  1. As taxpayers if they are going to pull this crap, then get us a better deal. $100k jobs, outsourced for $50k isn’t good enough. Use their own slime ball tactics on them. $20k pa. There’s tonnes of them, shouldn’t be hard to leverage them off against each other.

    • Luckily IT projects are rarely life threatening when they are cheaply done by those with low skills. Unlike building construction, where these comments on the Opal tower show how shoddy work by unskilled labour can kill:

      Mr Walker said it was only ever a matter of time before industry shoddiness was exposed.

      “There is a large proportion who don’t have the skills to meet Australian standards,” he said.

      “If you’ve got people who don’t speak or understand English, they are not understanding orders being given to them, they are not reading plans correctly. If they are misreading steel placement plans, this is the end result.”

      • I direct you at uh…. Tesla suicidal auto-pilot – as a fresh example of “code causing people to die”… and let’s not start a thread about hospital equipment which does run code and what happens when the fffffantastic thing locks up a conditional branch because erroneous assumptions and/or data input.

      • Yes some code is critical, but for every piece of medical equipment there are hundreds of household gadgets, so most code is not critical.

    • The contract went to WiPro, which is an Indian IT company, which imports hordes of IT workers on 457 and 482 visas. They have to pay the locals $52,700 a year which is probably three times what they need to pay their workers in India.

      Don’t worry about them though, the workers in India will sell your RMS driver’s ID data to identity thieves.

    • With elderly parents in tow, headed straight for the Seniors Cards / half price public transport / free medical care and aged pension.

  2. blindjusticeMEMBER

    Another gem, https://www.seek.com.au/job/38078728
    A minimum of 5 years telecommunication industry experience is essential in addition to being an expert with C/C++ programming (mandatory), Perl and LUA scripting, and working knowledge of the following technologies
    Media Server
    Dialogic APIs
    Pre-Post Paid Billing (OCS)
    I addition to the above, extensive Linux experience and exposure to real-time multi-threaded development/state machines is required. A salary range of $55,000 to $65,000

      • Five years experience with real-time multi-threaded development for $55k, sounds legit! And SA Premier Steven Marshall wonders why young South Australians keep leaving but simultaneously wants more “skilled immigrants”!

        The hypocrisy of the claim that Australia has a skills shortage is laid bare when you consider the medical profession. If Indian programmers are good enough to work in Australia, why not Indian doctors? And yet the only overseas “approved competent authorities” to assess medical professionals are in the US, UK, NZ, Canada and Ireland (https://www.medicalboard.gov.au/Registration/International-Medical-Graduates/Competent-Authority-Pathway.aspx). Hmm, doesn’t seem very “diverse” to me, paging Mr Chin Tan…

        BS like this is exactly why I’m discouraging my kids from considering a career in IT.

      • Interesting stuff John! Should definitely have the same laws for IT and accounting. Only allow foreign labour from those nations to come in – not cheap third world labour on $10/hour.

      • Hey John,
        Haven’t you figured out that it’s only the not so so good doctors from India/China that land in Australia and not their best ones,
        BTW I agree with you not letting your kids do IT or any STEM coz it’s equally bad or worse in Australia than many third world countries.
        And I don’t even understand why would a good programmer in C/C++A with a knowledge of SS7 Protocol would even want to be in Australia. Maybe we should should send this programmer to Tamworth as per Barnby Joyce so that he/she can enjoy the redneck country music there .

    • You mis-understand; that job is not designed to be filled locally. It just needs to be advertised locally now, to demonstrate that no local candidates can be found before importing a 457/482 visa holder who will be grateful for the $55,000.

      • blindjusticeMEMBER

        That`s exactly what is happening, and exactly what a local would have to compete with. Lots of developers are contract to contract. I wouldn’t like to have a mortgage in that scenario.

      • ^ nailed it. We don’t have a local “skills shortage” at all, it’s only a shortage at the crappy price employers are prepared to pay. Pay more and the “shortage” magically disappears.

    • Even there products sack workers!

      “By moving to Isoton, Vodafone saved over A$20M p.a. in opex and reduced headcount by in excess of 50 staff”
      Dave Harrison Head of Wholesale

      • The recent #LearnToCode meme is complicated but is pretty funny if you know the US media/politics backstory: https://legalinsurrection.com/2019/01/left-media-layoffs-spark-learntocode-meme-they-are-not-amused/

        What’s frustrating as an IT professional is actually having done what Western governments are encouraging their citizens to do (“learn to code”, major in “STEM” degrees etc) but having so, are considered too expensive and replaced by someone cheaper from overseas anyway. So basically you’ve been played. Poli’s actions speak louder than their words…

      • Thank you very much, John. Loved reading it.

        Now look forward at rolling out my own “learn to code” suggestions for deserving pr!cks

    • Jesus, all that for $55k. Who on earth would work for that amount with those skills? You should get paid a hell of a lot more than that.

    • Wow, I was on that salary in the late 80’s a couple of years out of Uni in a COBOL/IMS shop……

      • Yes, me too on that two years out of Uni in 1988, I was on 55k. Thirty years of progress eh? From memory, we sold a three bed in Kambah around that time for 110k or so, prolly worth 700k now.

        Problem is, when you are trading in a sector where your competitors are doing this, what choice do you have? Regulation could swing things back in Aussies’ favour, but the polis want to reward donors and get rewards later.

        Kants is too kind a word. The NSW Govt is committing treason against Australians

    • Fake advertising to justify importing Indian slaves.

      We’d pay $100K+ for someone like that.

  3. My job at a local council (postcode 4350) was eventually filled with an Indian IT import too at a lower wage. It ain’t just the fed state govt’s doing this.
    There is not a politician this side of the black stump talking about reducing the size of govt. As our economy shrinks everyone but the govt will need to take a haircut. Govt is sacrosanct (exceptional).
    I’m going to need help on how to reduce my exposure to tax and govt …

  4. What’s the difference? Many companies just use Indian immigrants instead who are technically Australian the day they arrive off the plane or get approval. Everyone in the world is an Australian just accept it and move on, if you can’t beat them….

      • Whether we like it or not all the pollies want globalisation and cheap labour. Nothing us plebs can do about it.

      • Only the historically challenged would make such a remark. Give it time. The anger is already out there, it just needs a bit of a crisis to set it off. That will fix thing.

    • I suspect that, unless you fit into one of the ‘approved’ categories you may find your application put to the bottom of the pile.

    • Make sure you turn up in a wheelchair or with a walking cane, otherwise you’ve got Buckley’s of getting in.

      • also put make up on and be outrageously flamboyant – just to make sure you cover uh… all bases. Spread the risk, as it were. Hedge your bets… that kind of thing.

    • Good luck Stags, not the career it was, but one of the few places you can actually plan a career in.

      Competitive though, bro, lots of smart contemporaries out there. And they may use an ‘Assessment Centre’ process which uses scenarios and actors, as well as your competing grads, to see how good a team player you are, your leadership… all that sort of crap, but you gotta do it if you want to be a shiny bum…

  5. I assume there will be the usual AI (lol) front end?
    Hello you have reached the IT help desk. It may save you 2 days and some inconvenience if you try the self-service help page in the first instance. If you wish to continue please wait to hear the 317 different options……….. an hour later. You have selected option 211. If this is correct please press 1
    Please tell us in a few words the problem you are enduring?
    I can’t lodge my sh#tty hours because the bloody link has disappeared.
    I’m sorry I don’t understand. Please tell us in a few words the problem you are enduring?
    Link disappeared
    Rinse and repeat 14 times.
    I’m sorry I don’t understand. Please wait while I transfer you to an operator?
    Two days later.
    Hi my name is Raj. Have you tried turning it off and on again?

      • Or worse – mechanical turk instances, where the operator is sitting in a shed somewhere in Buttf*ckistan

      • Jeezuz I have enough trouble logging in…. conflate …. lol… IVR AI PVRs iphone huawei they’re all after us

    • Lenny Hayes for PMMEMBER

      Hello, and welcome to the Springfield Police Department Rescue Phone.
      If you know the name of the felony being committed, press one.
      To choose from a list of felonies, press two.
      If you are being murdered or calling from a rotary phone please stay on the line.
      You have selected regicide.
      If you know the name of the king or queen being murdered please press one.

  6. I know a big Aus IT manager based in Melb, and the same is happening here. He says the immigrants are better than locals. He’s getting paid a fortune you’ll be glad to hear. They aren’t willing to give the local grads a go is what I gleaned from a chat.

      • The low pay the Indians tolerate (relative to local workers) is the price they are prepared to pay for permanent residency or for local work experience. They will put up with all sorts of crap until they get their PR, or until they have accumulated enough experience in Australian companies that they can leave and demand more equitable pay elsewhere. Then the hiring company simply backfills them with fresh Indians. This is mostly happening at banks, telcos and gov agencies that have ‘partnerships’ with TCS, HCL, InfoSys, DiData, DXC etc that allow them to bring over resources with no-questions-asked about their dubious qualifications, experience and general aptitude.
        The hidden costs of these working practices – re-work, poor coding, dishonesty, contstant hand-holding – are rarely acknowledged

    • I got talking to an Indian taxi driver the other day about hiring IT staff. He was saying I should look to employ Indian immigrants because most expect to pay you for the job. I felt mildly ill after that conversation. Guess I never got the memo during ethics class.

      I’ve been IT contracting for almost 16 years now and I can tell you there is far more job security being on a contract rate. The only permanent job I took in those 16 years was outsourced to India within 3 months. So I will not take permanent roles now, they just don’t have the job security.

      • Same here. I’m lucky as I can do some US and EU ones remotely. I really don’t like working here now. We’ll pull the pin and return OS when I can.

      • Also curious where you’d suggest going afund. We’re also thinking of upping and leaving, but it seems like every bloody country is pulling the same neoliberal BS as this one is. We’re thinking maybe Poland as my wife speaks Polish fluently (amongst 5 other languages) and it seems pretty independent.

  7. Agree with the article. But has anyone in Australia bothered to rise into the high end IT and still move the lower end jobs overseas as they do in US and Europe. Nope. Lack of high end skills in anything STEM, cause we are all focused on low end real estate and tradie(read protectionism) and other fluffy skills. When the technical quality is equally bad here in Australia and cheaper overseas countries, why should I spend more on local resources ? Probably we need to fix the quality of STEM education at our universities first. And the few smart folks who graduate from our universities don’t stay in Australia for too long for the local companies to hire them. Even if they were to apply for a job in the local companies, there would be no one smart enough to interview them, understand them and hire them !

    • We’re never going to fix STEM education in this country because we don’t have STEM industry in this country (of note). A place like MIT gets it right because there’s a strong interconnection between industry (right on campus or nearby) and education. Our idiot leaders seem to think that STEM education leads STEM industry but it’s the other way around and they’ve done everything right to kill STEM industry.

      Our university degrees are simply holidays for rich kids or time-passers while waiting to get PR. Education has nothing to do with it. My Uber driver the other day made exactly this point as he’s one of the people doing it, spending 40k per year on “education” that he doesn’t even care about, just waiting to get PR.